Diploma of Visual Art students from Victoria University explore the Lewis & Skinner Archive and research a selection of items in search of ghost signs around Melbourne.
This group took a personal journey through a selection of bay-side suburbs and nearby locations that formed a part of their individual hisotries and experiences in search of ghost signs related to the L&S Archive..
The items chosen for this exhibition from the Lewis and Skinner archives were chosen because we live in the locations where Lewis and Skinner created their signs. Most items chosen were in the bay side area of Melbourne during the 1950’s and include St Kilda, Brighton, Brighton Beach, Hampton, Cheltenham, Mordialloc, Chelsea and Edithvale. Also included were Chapel Street Prahran and Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick.
The research included initial searches on the Lewis and Skinner website followed by searches on the Web for historical photographs and archival documents. Local libraries and the State Library of Victoria, in particular the Sands and McDougal microfiche records, yielded several addresses in the Cheltenham area and documents about local history. Street locations were then visited on foot or by car.
The locations for sites of original signs were generally easy to find in most instances, however, none of the signs have survived. Some of the original businesses are still operating today such as Milano’s Hotel in Brighton Beach which was once called The Royal Terminus Hotel, and a milk bar in Chelsea still exists in its original location. Earl’s Hardware, which was in Barkly Street, still operates but has moved to Inkerman Street. Town Hall Motors in Brighton however, like so many of the businesses documented by Lewis and Skinner, was demolished many years ago. The original location was not provided by Lewis and Skinner therefore old photos and local knowledge was used to locate the site.
In many instances we found vacant blocks, building sites, alternative businesses and new buildings. At two locations on Nepean Highway, the sites were demolished to make room for the widening of the highway.
Research for this exhibition provided an opportunity to revisit areas of our childhood and/or neighbourhood and to see the locations in a different light. Often we pass these sites every day but no longer notice them in detail or register how much they have changed with time.
By visiting the sites we were struck by the impact of property development on our local history and opened our eyes to the decline in manufacturing in Melbourne and Victoria over the past 50-60 years. In addition, we have all become more observant of old signs in general and notice how many there still are around.